When Trevor Noah asked Burner Boy, what he thinks is responsible for the sudden rise of Nigerian pop, I disagreed with the answer he gave. According to Burner Boy, music moves from one nation to another and that eventually, it will move away again.
The genres of music that was Nigerian pop were Highlife and Juju music. Juju was born in the southwest of the country, while Highlife, inspired by American Jazz, came from Ghana (though Ghanaians say is was relayed from Sierra Leone). Though these genres of music rose to be popular beyond the shores of Africa, they never created the sort of impact that contemporary Nigerian pop is now making. Music is a mirror of a culture. Sadly, the culture these two mirrored weren’t attractive to the youths of Nigeria, largely because the youths are highly influenced by western culture, which was lacking in these genres.
So, why wouldn’t the youths simply start music that reflected the Hip-hop-tinged culture they lived? The answer is: the industry was controlled by the conservative, who loved Highlife and Juju. This is in addition to the truth that no one was willing to invest his money in something experimental. Then the computer came and digital recording studios sprang in nearly every street, arming the youths to start experimenting on what they thought was their music. The good about music made from software is that you don’t need a band. Another factor is the internet which facilitated interaction, but also allowing the fans to judge and decide if any new release matches their taste, rather than in the past when recording companies sometimes stood as stumbling blocks.
This helped to cut the cost of making a record. Suddenly, a renaissance of an industry that was dying started.
Since the music was highly influenced by Hip hop, which a lot of music lovers outside of the continent could relate to, it is the reason why the music is overcoming borders, not just within the diaspora but beyond.
People often ask if computers are only in Nigeria. They ask why isn’t music from other African nations soaring as high as music from their Nigerian. The answer is in our number, we are more than sand on the seashore. It explains why online searches for African music often turn up Nigerian music artists. This is also in addition to the possibility that there are a lot of ambitious folks in the giant West African nation.
The computer became a blessing to a sea of talented Nigerians that probably wouldn’t have been discovered, talents that would have lived and died even more painful because they never lived to realize the regal status that a music talent bestows on anyone who is born with it. We probably wouldn’t have known talents like Tuface, D’banj, Wizkid, Burner Boy, Simi and all the others.
Children will always be born to achieve what their parents failed to achieve.
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